His legacy lives on! Madonna performed a moving tribute to her late friend and fellow music icon Prince at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 22.
Before the chart-topping diva, 57, took the stage at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena to cover some of Prince’s most memorable tracks, Questlove shared a few words about the “Kiss” crooner at her Madgesty’s request.
“On April 21, we lost Prince. I say ‘we’ because it affects us all and no matter what kind of music we make, no matter how long we made it, our race, our creed, our sexual orientation, all of us live in the land of music and his departure from it was an earthquake,” Questlove, 45, who calls Prince his “idol,” shared. “… I just want to take a moment to remember the great Prince Nelson Rogers. It can be a moment of silence here in the air, but inside our heads, it should be anything but silence.”
Next, the Roots drummer introduced the “Living for Love” songstress, who began her set with a voiceover from Prince’s smash “Let’s Go Crazy.” Clad in a sparkling lilac baroque-inspired pantsuit and sitting on a plush purple throne, Madonna passionately belted out “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
Cane in hand, the entertainer then walked down a set of stairs on stage to get closer to the star-studded audience. Photos of Prince flashed on the screen behind Madonna as she lowered her head. Stevie Wonder made a surprise appearance in the middle of Madonna’s set and joined her for a touching rendition of Prince’s iconic song “Purple Rain.” The duo closed the show by encouraging the arena to clap their hands to their a cappella vocals.
“Most of all, thank you Prince Rogers Nelson for all that you have given us,” Madonna said at the end of the performance.
Prior to Madonna wowing the crowd at tonight’s ceremony, a Change.org petition was created by Prince fans, which aimed to stop Madonna’s performance from happening.
“Listen, I think everybody is entitled to their opinion and everyone can have their own opinion, but I will say that we are honored and could not be more excited for Madonna to be on the show and to pay tribute to someone that was her friend and her peer and her colleague,” BBMAs producer Mark Bracco said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, May 17. “I think it’s going to be fantastic.”
Bracco added that it was Madonna’s idea to pay homage to Prince. “Honestly, her team gave a call and inquired about what we might be thinking about and it led to many conversations about what would she want to do and how would we want to shape it creatively,” he explained. “And after everyone [got] comfortable with exactly what the direction was, we all collectively wanted to go into Madonna, that she would do this and she has been very, very involved in how this will all unfold creatively.”
Madonna remembered the seven-time Grammy winner in two touching Instagram posts on Sunday.
A photo posted by Madonna (@madonna) on May 21, 2016 at 4:30pm PDT
“Channeling the brilliant Prince Rogers Nelson ??????????,” she captioned a photo of her pal rocking out onstage with a guitar. In a subsequent ‘gram, the pop queen shared a close-up shot of what appeared to be the costume she wore during tonight’s show. “In Loving Memory of …………….??✝,” she wrote alongside the pic.
A photo posted by Madonna (@madonna) on May 22, 2016 at 12:29am PDT
Madonna was heartbroken when she heard Prince died at age 57 after he was found unresponsive in an elevator at his suburban Chanhassen, Minnesota, home on Thursday, April 21.
“He Changed The World!!” she wrote at the time, accompanied by a throwback snap of the pair together from the ’90s. “A True Visionary. What a loss. I’m Devastated.”
A photo posted by Madonna (@madonna) on Apr 21, 2016 at 11:17am PDT
The longtime friends, who were rumored to have briefly dated in 1985, collaborated on the 1988 song “Love Song,” which was featured on Madonna’s fourth studio album, Like a Prayer.
Other stars who have shared their condolences for Prince since his tragic passing include Britney Spears, Gene Simmons, Lady Gaga, Blake Shelton, Missy Elliott, Boy George and Katy Perry, among others.
Watch the video above.
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